Diffusion Science radio: NEWS: dodgy space suits from NASA; dangerous neckties in the hospital ward & spiders with garbage in their webs.

NEWS: dodgy space suits from NASA; dangerous neckties in the hospital ward & spiders with garbage in their webs.

NEWS: dodgy space suits from NASA; dangerous neckties in the hospital ward & spiders with garbage in their webs. NASA crew at the International Space Station are finding problems with their space suits, or so reports New Scientist magazine this week. They are needed for a 4 ス hour spacewalk to fix a broken power controller that controls one of the 3 gyroscopes that control the international space station痴 alignment. The failed controller is on the US side of the space station, about 10 metres from a US airlock. The thing about airlocks is that they have a communication system linked to the space suits. So with the US space suits at the tailor, the astronauts need to try on the Russian space suits for size and colour instead, and go out through the Russian airlock. This makes the whole thing much more complex as this is further away from the broken gyro - about 25 metres away. This is a looooonng space walk. To help them on their way though they will be using a space crane to help them for the first two thirds of the way. They値l then have to climb another 10 metres. This is a whole lot more complicated apparently and so to ensure adequate preparation time, the walk has been deferred to June 16. NASA said in the interim they will try to troubleshoot the spacesuits on the ground as well. Closer to Earth, but still in North America, a study of neckties worn by doctors at the New York Hospital Medical Centre of Queen痴 found that they contained dangerous bacteria which can cause blood infections and pneumonia. The study started up after a med student noticed that doctor痴 ties sometimes brushed against patients, in the course of an examination. So they scaped of some samples from the ties and cultured them. Nearly half of the ties sampled from doctors and medical personnel contained dangerous pathogens. However a comparative test of security personnel found that they had an array of pathogens on only one in ten ties. Previous studies have shown that stethoscopes and cellphones are also pathogen reservoirs. In Aussie news, scientists say they reckon spiders leave trails of rotting garbage in their web to lure their prey. It痴 been known for a while that orb-web spiders leave a trail of partly digested insect flesh and plant material to rot away in their web. This was thought to be left overs, to munch on later. But spiders don稚 usually go for eating plants, so why the leaves & twigs? Some folks were pondering this at the department of zoology at the Uni of Melbourne. They tested the reactions of fruit flies and sheep blowflies by holding up one plain web and one debris web and looked at how many flies went where. Well apparently fruit flies don稚 really respond in any meaningful way. Sheep blowies however flew straight at the web with debris all over it. Not only this but they were more attracted to debris a week old when it痴 really rotting, rather than say 3 or 4 days old. This lines up with observations that the spiders replace old debris with a new selection that will smell. The smell comes from the bacteria that break down the debris.
May 28, 2004

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